August 23, 1946

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

With the latter I am not in disagreement, but now that the minister has had some days to consider the case of Major Elliott-

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I have had other matters to consider.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

A question has been raised with regard to a matter which affected the war effort of this nation, and on a number of occasions I have met an impenetrable wall in trying to get information. Surely the minister has had opportunity to consider-

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I do not like that "impenetrable wall". My hon. friend asked me for a statement as to the action which had been taken with respect to Major Elliott, and I have given him a full and complete statement. I have told him that Major Elliott was removed for misconduct and inefficiency on duty. I do not think there is any impenetrable wall about that. It is just a clear concise statement of the facts.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Surely if it is all so simple and so clear, there should not be any delay in production of the letter or letters. The minister is not going to assume, is he, that a letter received from the commissioner of the mounted police regarding an officer in the army, no matter when it was received, whether before or after he left the army-in this case it was after-should not be producible to the House of Commons? Apparently two counsel had arrived at the conclusion that a proper case had been made out. The mounted police had fully investigated the matter and had determined to go ahead; they were simply awaiting formal instructions. These instructions were not forthcoming, not because of any desire or action of the mounted police, but in consequence of a direction of the deputy minister of labour. After the letter was received from the commissioner of the mounted police, was or was not Major Elliott interviewed by the representatives of the army? How many of the medical discharge certificates or medical discharge documents disappeared from Camp Borden or were lost while Major Elliott was in charge at Camp Borden? My information is that in the case against one Lawrence Schrupsole, of Toronto, who was prosecuted in April or May, 1945, it was revealed that Major Elliott did give a statement to the mounted police to the effect

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that he had signed a considerable number of documents in blank and had turned them over to Mr. Arnold. All I am trying to find out is the basis upon which, after investigation and recommendation by the mounted police, the deputy minister of labour decided that, regardless of whether or not there was a conspiracy to interfere with the war effort of this nation by assuring to certain individuals medical discharge certificates to which they were not entitled, there should be no prosecution and the mounted police should be hobbled, first on the ground that there was no evidence that money had passed when there was clear evidence of a conspiracy as revealed by Lennox in his evidence, and secondly on the ground that the war was over and therefore prosecution should not be considered.

I know that the minister himself had nothing whatever to do with any impropriety in this matter. But I want to know what the commissioner of the mounted police alleged against Major Elliott. Surely there can be no question of privilege here. This is a request for information. I have not been able to get these documents by a motion in this house. In a matter affecting a goodly number of persons, in connection with which there was an investigation which lasted from December, 1944. to March or April, 1945, the government would lead the house and the country to believe that the complete file has been brought down. Actually only eight letters are on the file in regard to what the commissioner of the mounted police communicated to the Department of National Defence, yet that was one of the matters covered in the order which was made by the house for the production of the papers. The order read:

Order of the house-[DOT]

For a copy of all correspondence passing between the Department of National Defence and/or the Department of Labour, and/or the Department of Justice-[DOT]

There were no qualifications to that order. My hon. friend mentions this letter. Does he not consider that it passed between departments? Is not the mounted police under the Department of Justice? As a matter of fact no question was raised by the Department of National Defence as to their not having certain documents when they made their answer to this return. They did say:

It is understood that copies of the correspondence in question will be furnished by the Department of Labour.

The minister of Justice would have this country believe that a return consisting of eight letters, without the enclosures-therefore the letters required are not there-constitutes the full file on an investigation into a conl Mr. Diefenbaker.]

spiracy widespread in its ramifications. Surely any reasonable person will realize that an order made by parliament without qualification has not been complied with. All I am asking at the moment, however, is for production of the correspondence between the commissioner of the mounted police and the Department of National Defence. Only by that means can parliament achieve through the medium of questioning what it has not been able to achieve as a result of an order passed by the house.

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PC

Alan Cockeram

Progressive Conservative

Mr. COCKERAM:

Mr. Chairman, while we are on the subject of courts martial it might be well to review the whole system of courts martial in the army. Some time ago I asked for the production of General Price Montague's report on conditions in Holland, but my motion for the papers was voted down. The minister will remember that there were prosecutions in Holland of certain junior officers and of a senior officer. The junior officers were found guilty and punishment was meted out by the court. The senior officer, more or less on the instructions of the prosecuting officer, was acquitted. At the trial the prosecuting officer had this to say:

It would pain the entire army to see one of its most distinguished members come to grief on such charges as these. We would all rejoice at an acquittal.

However, if the court feels later conduct did not measure up to his own earlier standards then a verdict of guilty must be registered.

I state now that that was interference with the course of justice by the prosecuting officer. Unfortunately this is not the only case. I am not saying that the present minister had anything to do with it, but it was a well-known fact in the army that many courts martial were ordered by the then minister of militia in spite of the fact that the cases had previously been disposed of. It seems to me that if there is going to be interference by the minister, if he can order courts martial to take place where and whenever he so desires, there is something -wrong with justice in the army. I believe that any system whereby ministers of the crown can require the judge advocate general or a district officer commanding to court martial an officer or a man, with or without justification, needs to be completely changed. It amazes me that within the last few weeks this officer, who as I say was acquitted on the orders of the highest officers, has since been placed in one of the senior positions of the Canadian militia. If the militia is to be efficient, if it is to be a force which can be looked up to not only by the men serving in the army but by the people

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of Canada as a whole, great- care must be taken in the selection of the senior officers; because if the men in the ranks have not the respect for their officers which they should have, and if the people do not respect the force, you will never get a permanent force in this army.

I should like the minister to enlarge on this matter. There is no question in my mind that Major Elliott should have been court-mar-tialled. The department knew about what he had been doing. Had I been someone else, no doubt the then minister would have ordered a court martial of that officer and he would have been punished if found guilty. The whole system of courts martial in the army must be revised.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Mr. Chairman, I think I had better anwer this question.

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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

I am not a military man, but I take an interest in this question, partly because I come from a city whose people suffered more casualties in two wars than any other city in Canada. The minister may think that this is all a joke, but it is not.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Oh, no.

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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

The joke is on the party on the other side of the house, which presents us with all these estimates and no plan for defence for the future. The opposition has been very courteous and helpful to the government, and it is not my wish to delay the proceedings; they should have been through two weeks ago.

During the first great war and ever since that time I have taken much interest in the work of the department. We have had very fine ministers at the head of it. As to the non-permanent militia, which used to be called the militia, but is now known as the reserve army, there is no "reserve" about it; in twenty-four hours it was ready for active service in both these wars.

I say to the government that this should not be a political question. We should have a committee on national defence. That would have been much better than having a committee on external affairs, which in its discussions travels all over the seven seas and does nothing except to bring a lot of irrelevant questions before the house. It is important to have a proper defence committee of the House of Commons. They have one at Washington, they have one in the old country.

The men who put their time, their money and their lives into the reserve army, the old militia, deserve well of Canada. If continued along the right lines in the future it will be the backbone of the country's defence. Incidentally I would call attention to the fact

that, visiting Canada next Wednesday or Thursday is the great field marshal and commander in chief of the forces who marched across the North African desert, Viscount Montgomery.

In my opinion, without proper plans the money which this department proposes to spend between the end of the second great war and the beginning of the third war- because there is a third war coming and it will be right on our shores-will be wasted. The peace pacts and peace policies the united nations and of Paris and Potsdam and other places have collapsed, and Europe is to be divided as decided on by the original big three at Yalta, Teheran, Potsdam and Malta; and the middle and small powers cannot change it at all. In the face of those facts we should have in my opinion a joint defence policy for the whole commonwealth of nations, on land, on sea and in the air. That is most important. You have lost the Pacific, you have given up the bases on the Atlantic for ninety-nine years. You have thrown away the control of the Atlantic from Newfoundland to British Guiana. Nothing is so valuable as the study of history in connection with military matters, and a recent textbook of great military importance has been written by Lord Wavell, who is now in India. I hope the minister will read it He shows that in the two great wars Hitler and the Kaiser made the same mistakes as Napoleon did. It consists of a series of addresses in which he points out mistakes made in the last two wars and the need of empire defence. I advise the minister to ponder these lessons for Canada, because we are going to make about the same mistakes again if we are not active to prevent it. In my opinion we should never have given up the Atlantic naval and air bases in exchange for a lot of old ships, only one-third of which were used. That lease transaction should be cancelled and charged up to lend-lease, which it was in the dark days of the battle of the Atlantic to save America from invasion. In that way we would be enabled to play some part in the defence of our own country and of the other British dominions in a future war or a future battle of the Atlantic.

As to the Pacific ocean, we have been practically cleared out of the Pacific, although before the war started Britain had the whole Pacific situation in her own hands on land, on sea, and in the air. I urge upon the government that there is no point in wasting any more money as it has been wasted on our old militia methods. There must be coordination between the army, the navy and

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morning, at this stage of the session, but I can tell you that it is going to have a very serious effect on recruiting for the reserve army. People are not going to waste their time in serving their country if that is the policy of this country; if we are going to throw overboard Britain and all the dominions who saved our shores here, and give that sort of treatment to the fine men of the reserve army who were the backbone of the militia in two great wars as well as the South African war, the northwest rebellion, the Fenian raid and so on; and the 1885 veterans never got a nickel out of those earlier services. They were the men who made the militia; they did their duty, and their sons and grandsons are in the forces to-day. If we are going to pass orders in council like this and still keep in custody as deserters some 864 volunteers, all of whom served at the front for three or four years, while we take no action against those who stayed home and ran away from service in this country, then I tell you that you can. say good-day and good-bye to any defence system in the future in Canada on land, sea and in the air.

The first duty of a citizen, as I see it, is to defend his country. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend"-meaning his country. That is why you enlisted in the first war, Mr. Chairman, and the men who went with you; that is why so many enlisted during the last war, to save civilization. Speak for no party but only as a private member. I need not detain the house long over this matter except to say that a mistake has been made. The government have a majority. They have acted by order in council over the head of parliament, with an utter contempt for the House of Commons while in session here. We might as well all go home, because we have nothing to say about this thing. "Parliament will decide" is a myth. Do you think I am going to go out and encourage people to enlist now? Unfortunately I was not able or qualified1 to enlist myself or I would not have been here at all. How are we going to be able to support the militia when matters are dealt with in this haphazard fashion? I say this in all kindness to our friends in one province. Canada will never forget the old land of France in the last war, a country to which in the first great war the eyes of the whole civilized world were turned. Britain should make a new alliance with France. As Sir Eugene Tache said, should our flag in Canada ever be hauled down, "the last shot in defence of our country will be fired by a French Canadian " We should have union, that union which is set out in the in-CMr. Church.]

scription to Montcalm and Wolfe on the plains of Abraham, with equal rights for all, and equality of service and sacrifice. During the last war this house met in camera-I did not attend the session-to deal with matters concerning the near approach of the enemy to the shores of the St. Lawrence. But for the forces of the mother country, her fleet and the cooperation of the dominions, we would have had the awful horror of war in our own land; the gestapo, the police, the loud speaker, the concentration camp, the whip; and hundreds of thousands of our population in Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes would have been carted off to work in the German mines. So I think we should pay tribute where tribute is due.

In conclusion, I can tell you that we are going to have a rude awakening unless we profit by mistakes and institute a forward defence policy. I appreciate what has been done by the minister and by all those who has occupied that office, including my hon. friend who is wearing the Mackenzie school tie to-day and who we hope will have a very pleasant holiday, because he has earned one; he has worked hard as leader of the house. The present minister of army and navy is a student and a gentleman of very considerable ability. I saw him at Niagara camp as a young volunteer; and I appeal to him to try and stimulate recruiting. As the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard said the other day, and as I suggested, I hope he will travel across the country for that purpose, if his health is still good enough when this session is over. We are apt to be talked to death here, and somebody may be charged with murder. In my opinion this place is becoming more and more like 999 Queen West in Toronto, and the sooner we conclude our business and close the better for all concerned and the better for the health of the country generally.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNIGHT:

There are two subjects I should like to draw to the attention of the minister. The first might very easily have followed the minister's talk about how these uniforms were converted to rags. There is a good deal of speculation around my home city of Saskatoon as to the amount and disposal of army material stored there. According to sessional paper 248 of July 16 some 87 carloads of material were stored in the T. Eaton building in Saskatoon, including 6 carloads of wearing apparel, 46 carloads of bedding, 35 carloads of camp equipment. I believe this material has to be moved in the immediate future. I do not know whether the T. Eaton Company requires its property, but I understand this material is to be dis-

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posed of, and there is some speculation as to its ultimate disposition. I presume the army has seen to it that the material has been kept in good shape, that it has not suffered damage from moths or vermin, though I was not able to elicit that information by my question. It is interesting to note that the premises were leased from the T. Eaton Company on January 15, 1941, and that since that time the dominion government has been paying this company SI,000 per month for the use of that property. For some reason the rent now has been reduced to $980. It would be interesting to know what fraction of the building was given back to the T. Eaton Company for that $20 a month.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Some space was given up.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNIGHT:

I see. That is the situation. One question I asked was in regard to the ultimate disposal of this material, and I was informed that some would be kept for the use of the army, and that any not required for the use of the army would be declared surplus to War Assets Corporation for disposal. That last sentence interested me, because on several previous occasions I had pleaded with War Assets in an endeavour to get two tents for the boy scouts in my home city. I have been trying to get those tents ever since I was elected, and I shall consider myself a successful member of parliament only when I succeed in getting those tents for the boy scouts.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

If my hon. friend had approached me, that might have been arranged. In the case of equipment of that kind, while it -may not be a general rule, where need is shown for boy scouts and so on we arrange to declare tents surplus. They go through War Assets and are sold to the boy scouts. Under certain circumstances, where things were available from surplus stocks, we have lent them in cases of emergency. I should hope there would not be any feeling that these tents could not be obtained.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNIGHT:

Through you, Mr. Chairman, I might say to the minister that my correspondence in my office upstairs will show that I havp made application for these tents and have been refused. I will not say that refusal came from the minister's department.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

That would be from War Assets, and they probably did not have any tents at the time.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNIGHT:

I do not know how long these materials have been stored, but 35 carloads of camp equipment would mean a lot of tents.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Oh, that would not be all tents; that would be all kinds of barracks stores.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNIGHT:

I understand that, but I assume some fraction would consist of tents, but in any case war assets have refused to supply those tents to these boy scouts. Perhaps the minister will make some comment on the whole situation, but I should like to ask if any of that material is material left over from the first war. I do not mean the war of 1939-45, but whether any of that material has been lying about since the first great war. I should also like the minister to comment on whether any of this bedding, for example, would be suitable for civilian as well as for army purposes. I think there is no harm in airing these matters; it is in the interest of the public that they should be aired.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Blankets should be aired anyway.

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August 23, 1946